Ezra Aviles – Gone but not forgotten online
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Ezra Aviles

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After the first hijacked plane struck the World Trade Center, Ezra Aviles was on the phone calling Port Authority officials from the 61st floor, describing the plane crash and warning colleagues to stay away from the building. A Port Authority senior manager for strategic planning and development, Aviles saw American Airlines Flight 11 pass his windows before it plowed into the north tower some floors above. Rather than flee for safety, Aviles continued working, helping others to escape. He also called his wife, Mildred, in Commack, N.Y., about 8:50 a.m. His body was found in the rubble four days after the collapse of the towers. Aviles, 41, formerly assistant commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, had responded to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, when six died and many suffered smoke inhalation. An expert on building materials and air quality control, he came to the Port Authority six years ago where he "hoped he could do something to make a difference," said family friend Debra Ferguson. A geologist, Aviles was also an environmentalist. His daughter, Jacqueline, 13, who eulogized her father at services Sept. 19 in Christ the King Church in Commack, said, "He made the ultimate sacrifice by placing the lives of his fellow co-workers before his own. My dad is a hero never to be forgotten, a peaceful warrior of the 21st Century." Aviles also had a daughter, Kathryn, 4, and a son Andrew, 2. Born in Far Rockaway, N.Y., Aviles graduated from Beach Channel High School. He met his wife, the former Mildred Marti, when both were students at York College. He earned his bachelor of science degree at York and a master's degree in geology from Brooklyn College